This Is the Only Sugar Scrub Recipe You Need for Soft, Silky Skin

Photo: Stocksy/Trinette Reed
People have been taking advantage of the powers of exfoliation for thousands of years—like, so far back that ancient Egyptians were even sloughing away dead skin. Heck, Cleopatra herself was known to be a fan. (Except she bathed in sour milk to improve the appearance of her complexion—a method that sounds 100 percent gag-worthy, so please don't try it at home.) Nowadays though, you can walk into practically any store and find numerous treatments that will leave your skin soft and silky-smooth, but sometimes it pays off to take a minimalist approach and go back to the basics.

Benefits of sugar scrubs

So the next time you want to exfoliate, empty your online shopping cart and save your money for a spin streaming service. For your skin-smoothing needs, just reach for an ingredient that's almost definitely already in your kitchen pantry: sugar. According to Siva Mohan, an Ayurvedic doctor, it's one of the easiest ways to encourage cell turnover and improve the tone and texture of your skin. Also, sugar is a natural humectant, it draws moisturize into your skin while you're using it, ensuring the exfoliation process doesn't leave you looking dry and flaky—something that can easily happen if you're scrubbing too roughly or not using the right product.

Since sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, it can help keep your skin looking young and healthy through the years—well, as long as you're just putting it on your skin, not eating it.

Unlike other exfoliating materials (looking at you, salt!), sugar is incredibly gentle and not at all scratchy, which makes it a non-irritating method that even people who have sensitive skin types can take advantage of. Then there's also the fact that it's an anti-ager. Since sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, it can help keep your skin looking young and healthy through the years—well, as long as you're just putting it on your skin, not eating it. Because that's a whole different story.

Sugar scrub ingredients

By and large, most oils that you see in the skin-care world will work when it comes to polishing off the old dead skin that's lurking on your body's surface, but here are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, if you use a coarser, larger grain of sugar that you use, likely the more intense exfoliation you'll receive. So for example, using a raw brown sugar would be rougher than using a finer granulated sugar. Depending on your skin type, you can decide which level is right for you. And if you're not sure? Start off with a smaller grain and work your way up from there if you find that it's too gentle for your liking.

When it comes to which oil you want to use, there is a world of customization to play with. Some oils like avocado and coconut can be comedogenic on oilier skin types, while something like sweet almond oil is lighter and easier to wash off. You can pick the consistency of the oil you want, but remember that for some more liquid oils, you might need to add a bit more sugar to help solidify the final product than you would if you were working with something like coconut oil.

How to make a sugar scrub at home

Now that you know the perks, how exactly do you get started in making your own sugar scrub at home? Lucky for you, it's super easy.

Step 1: Start by measuring out 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of coconut oil, avocado oil, or sunflower oil in a Mason jar.

Step 2: Add in 10 to 15 drops of your favorite skin-boosting essential oil. You can choose whatever your heart desires, but some of the best? Chamomile, which is anti-inflammatory and cleansing; ginger, which aids collagen production; and ultra-calming lavender, which helps with redness. Rose oil is great, too, for its ability to combat acne—especially if it's hormonal. Basically, you're in pretty good company and can get some added benefits by experimenting with what works best for you.

Step 3: Use a spoon or spatula mix the ingredients until well-combined, ensuring that the mixture is well-combined.

Step 4: Taking care to not touch the formula still in the Mason Jar, so as not to introduce bacteria to the formula, remove what you're going to use and seal the rest in the jar to use within a week's time.

It should look something like this (only a little less pink):


How to use sugar scrubs

After you have your scrub ready to go, use it on your face and body in the shower two to three times a week and you'll wind up with smooth, clear, and fresh-looking skin. Keep the mixture on your counter next to all your other go-to beauty products, where it'll stay fresh for the next couple weeks. And who knows? It might just become your favorite part of your skin-care routine—especially because aside from all those benefits for your complexion, it's also great for your mental health, assisting you in unwinding after a long, stressful day at work.

And as you're using the scrub, the relaxing scent from the essential oils will bring on all the good vibes. You may even be left to wonder whether you're in a spa or tiny apartment bathroom? Close your eyes and you'll never know.

This article was originally posted on July 19, 2018. It was updated on March 24, 2021.

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